Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Arcade Hunters Review: Flower

At the 2013 tournament at FunSpot there was a mystery game that Gary and the rest of the American Classic Arcade Museum crew had been putting together for a few years. That game was Flower. At first not much was known about this odd little game but after getting some help from the folks over on Neo-Geo.com I can shed a little light on this game. Flower was originally released back in 1986 from Alpha Denshi, otherwise known as ADK. The same company that made many games on the Neo-Geo including Magician Lord, Blue's Journey, the World Heroes series and my personal favorite, Twinkle Star Sprites. In Japan the game was published by Sega but here in the west it was published by a small company named, Komax. Flower was the only game Komax ever released, Gary had told me he tried to get into contact with somebody from the company (which might still be in operation) but sadly nobody ever replied back to him.

Flower is a very strange shooter. It's an early 80's SHMUP and it shows because you can only move in four directions and the entire ship is the "hit box" meaning if one thing comes into contact with the edge of the wing you loose a life. The game has power-ups like most shooters. They range from speeding up, lasers,missiles, a "cutter" which can slice through a row of enemies but has to be caught like a boomerang to be used again and multiple options like in Gradius. All of the options are collected by shooting a specific flower on a "daisy chain" so if you hit the first one, you'll get a speed up with the ones in the middle being the weapons and the final one is the option. It's a pain in the ass to try to hit the one you want while trying to dodge on a four way stick and the normal shot does not go very far.

Since there's no instructions on how to play the game it's unclear on how you're supposed to progress through the game. The first stage has an endless supply of flowers that just fall in set patterns along with the daisy chains.What I think you're supposed to do is shoot the pulsing red bars on the top of the screen. Since your normal shot doesn't go far I think they want you to get the laser power up and use that to shoot through the barrier. The problem is there's no sound effect or visual clue that you're breaking through the barrier. They seem to want you to go through the barrier because there is one non flower enemy in the game, the red orb. This orb can't be destroyed unless you use the cutter power up. However it's VERY slow and just pans from one side to the other so it's not much of a threat. I guess this is to make you go through the barrier, but as you can see in the video people figured out that if you got the first option all you had to do is park yourself on the right side of the screen and just fire and shimmy up and down. The orb never gets near you and your shots are so short they won't penetrate the shield.

One person racked up over two million points and tons of extra lives. I guess this is why the game failed in the arcades. If people were able to figure out how to exploit the game only after being plugged in for less then five hours, just think of what it would have done back in the 80's. Once somebody figured it out, it must have spread and since you can't make money on a game with somebody grinding it out for hours at a time you can kiss that game goodbye.

So that pretty much is Flower. I still want to see why lies beyond the giant sunflower and the music was really good so I would like to hear some of the later stages. But with the game having a huge breaking exploit I can see why this is a a forgotten game.

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